Crackjacks from 1964


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Trad climber
May 30, 2009 - 02:40pm PT
awesome thread!

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 30, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
Man, the Right Side of the Hourglass is a big ass sandbag at 5.10a. But who knows. I remember when we were just starting to get good in the Valley it was a requirment to do all the standard hard man off widths and frankly, I had no technique at the beginning and had to muscle/wrestle everything. Hence Despair, Left Reeds, Chingando, Edge of Night, Chopper, Left Slack, Right Hourglass, Vendetta, Cleft (then rated 5.9), Kristina, Absolutely Free Right, and all the rest felt aweful.

Then all of a sudden you can do this stuff. I had to get a lot of mileage and spent some time on Generator Crack to get it all dialed.

Back in the day, there was basically no great way to protect the hard parts of these routes - tube chocks just never fit right. The "pro" was your knee in the crack, and when you had to pull it out (Stepping Out!), things got exciting.

I think the hardest straight arm baring I did in Yoz was on Bad Ass Moma. I couldn't get my knee in and I never learned hand stacking so it was dynamic arm barring all the way. Bleak leverage . . .

Sure wish I would have gotten on Basket Case. That still sounds like the best one of them all.

karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
May 31, 2009 - 04:13pm PT

There is still room for one of your LONG cams in my museum.
Break out MISTER! I mean, cough, I would love to have one someday sir......

Rock on! Marty
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 31, 2009 - 04:46pm PT
Actually, Largle, I agree about the Right Side of the Hourglass. If a climber is a larger type he can't get a chicken wing in the overhanging offwidth out of the tree for about 20-25 feet as I recall but if you were Steve Moyles, Alex H. sized climber, you'd be winging in a move or two thus making this route two completely different experiences for those two types of climbers. You and I were fairly muscly and thicker-chested so for us that route probably compares out at 5.10b/c. I've done it several times free and have come to this conclusion.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2009 - 09:34am PT
Here is a crackjack device from Eastern Europe known as a Tendor. Andras Z. just sent the scan to me.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2009 - 07:55pm PT
Here Harding is pictured on his First Winter Ascent of his Keeler Needle route with a crackjack on his hardware loop.


Oct 4, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Nice find Peter! I love that picture of you using them in the Hourglass.
BTW, the Les Wilson link wasn't working, did it get changed, updated or moved?
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2009 - 11:41pm PT

the links to Les' site pages on this:

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Oct 5, 2009 - 12:32pm PT
Innovative Gear Bump!


Oct 5, 2009 - 04:52pm PT
Hi Folks...

I recently changed the links to my article and photo gallery on CrackJacks to:

Also, I found a 1966 Ski Hut catalogue that listed them.

karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Oct 8, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
I am soooo glad that here is a photo of a Crackjack hanging off of Hardings harness. The Crackjack that I have is from Bridwell. Bridwell said that Harding gave it to him. Years ago I had Don Lauria take photos of the crackjack to Harding to verify this story and Harding replied "I have never seen this piece of gear in my life." But yet here is Harding wearing the piece!!!!
Maybe my Crackjack still holds its true story!! YES!!
I possibly am holding the Crackjack that Harding is wearing in that photo.
Regardless it is a fantastic piece of climbing history and I am glad to own one! I like the (heavy) #6 Eiger hex which is left of the Crackjack in the Harding photo.


Ajaccio, Corsica, France.
Oct 23, 2009 - 08:05am PT
After many, many years of exciting research, The Nuts Museum was at long last enhanced with some of its most valuable pieces: three CrackJacks!

With these lines, I would like to thank Peter Haan for his assistance with getting me in touch with Les Wilson.... and Les Wilson for parting with such historical treasures.

CrackJacks: 2 originals, made from iron turnbuckles, and one aluminum ...
CrackJacks: 2 originals, made from iron turnbuckles, and one aluminum model
Credit: nutstory

Stephane / Nuts Museum
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2009 - 10:05am PT
Stephane, that is wonderful to see you finally have a few of these monsters in your museum! Great that you have two early turnbuckle iron ones too! And thanks tons to the legendary Les Wilson!!

Now Karabin: it is extremely likely that the particular crackjack you have is the one in the photo. There had to be less than twenty ever made and the Ski Hut and Al Steck don't remember ever selling any. Bridwell did have one and he never would have bought one; meanwhile Harding was a friend from way back. The fact that Harding did not remember ever seeing one but actually had one on his rack on Whitney goes to show that Harding was getting a few bricks shy of a load after awhile. HOWEVER, Bridwell is a bit that same way too as the first ascent by the Harding party of the East Face of the Column, aka later Astroman, was in 1959. Crackjacks were made in 1965, six years later. However the "East face of Whitney" is close in sound etc..... and we have Harding with one here.

The first aluminum ones looked the same on both ends, namely there was was no thick shoulder on the rotating end for a sling. Then we made about another ten or so that had the shoulder---- the one in Stephane's museum and which Les gave Stephane is the later better model with that shoulder. We realized it was a much smarter design to have the shoulder for slinging---- you did not want to sling the tube itself as that approach would be far weaker and there was no room for a sling at the ends so constructed.

Here is another photo from our second Hourglass ascent 1965. It is Les trying to stuff himself into the crux just above the tree. Kind of funny and a typical "climber's photo":


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 23, 2009 - 10:44am PT
If you used those in the desert you could widen the crack to your appropriate heel/toe size.
Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Oct 23, 2009 - 11:04am PT
this is such a totally great thread,

Social climber
The Greeley Triangle
Oct 23, 2009 - 11:12am PT
Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize...that's what you get with..
Oops, wrong Cracker Jacks.

Mountain climber
MILF Island
Oct 23, 2009 - 01:39pm PT
Serious gear Peter. And the climbing hardware is impressive too.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2009 - 03:50pm PT
Kind of an aside here:

The bolt on the right side of the Hourglass should be replaced. It is the only thing you are going off of from a hanging tree belay (belayer is hanging in the tree with no stance on the cliff itself) and the crux is immediately off of the bolt, continuing for the leader---depending on his/her size---for about 10-30 feet after which a chicken wing is possible thus ending the real risk of a high-category fall approaching 2 (!!). This bolt is the original (and unusual) 47-year-old self-drilled head with bolt threaded into it and is not acceptable. It makes the climb factually pretty effing dangerous. I would suggest that either the replacer person put one on the flake itself in that same area, namely on the left side of the crack in the super orange stone of the Hourglass itself and accessible to the leader or next to the old one, a much worse location and much more perilous as the leader could fall on the belayed line and flip over into the tree and the slot it grows out of. Pulling the old bolt probably will leave a huge diameter hole, I remember, maybe 1/2".... so that precludes using the old hole I am guessing. A wrench or maybe phillips set will be needed to undo the bolt threaded into it however.
David Wilson

Oct 23, 2009 - 10:05pm PT
peter - i have some shiny 3/8" bolts. maybe i'll go up and replace that one per your suggestions. great to see any other scans of dad. thanks, david

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2009 - 11:17pm PT
David, about ten years ago, Les and Bev came down to my place in the country and gathered up all the slides I had of Les, namely from July/August of 1963. He then digitized them and eventually returned the slides themselves to me. Do you have copies of his digitizing work? If not I can muster these up and do the same for you, David.

Yeah it would be a great thing to do, replace that turkey-ass bolt. Just like that group did the Lost Arrow Chimney's crux bolts last month. Both of these have been buzz-saws for decades.
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